The Helio Sequence
I'm confused. Is my CD skipping, or is this the way that track one on Helio Sequence's Com Plex is supposed to sound? Oh, things seem to straighten out at the two-minute mark, so I guess it was intentional, after all. Helio Sequence bring to mind Stereolab, Tahiti 80, and The Aluminum Group at various points. But international jet-setters or Francophones, Helio Sequence are not. Considering that its two members hail from Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon, the amount of innovation coming from this MBV influenced bedroom recording duo is pretty astounding. Still, the record just has a kind of abstruse feel to it. Maybe this is what Stereolab would sound like if they wanted to whittle down their fan base by subjecting them to a few more abstractions then were necessary.
That's just one side, albeit the worst one, of Helio Sequence. At their best, as on the potent "Just Mary Jane (Calypso)," they wield a distinct electronic power pop. Wish as one might that they would run with this and leave the filler to other knob twiddlers, they just can't stay the straight and narrow. So Com Plex has more than its share of gratuitous, meandering synth swells and random off-putting beats and electronic chirps. However, it's worthwhile when The Helio Sequence change directions mid song. They do this enough to salvage the CD. For instance, just when it seems that "Transistor Radio" is going to ambient its way into a cul-de-sac of boredom, the song breaks out in a catchy tune that's well worth the wait. This juxtaposing of soundscapes and more directional pop adds a kind of drama to Com Plex that is truly unique… but sometimes it might be better to just get to the point. Call it attention deficit disorder or impatience, but some people, this reviewer included, have trouble paying attention to noise for noise's sake. That may be a matter of opinion, and as such might be neither here nor there. Yet, one thing that shines through on this record is a band brimming with potential and creative promise.
Cavity Search Records, PO Box 42246, Portland, OR 97242; http://www.cavitysearchrecords.com